Innovative young New Zealand racehorse trainer Paul Harris is riding the crest of the wave. In only his first season as a licensed public trainer, Harris has made a huge impression in a short time in the industry as leader of the national Newcomer of the Year title, which has only two weeks to run. The award is open to those who have been training for five years or less, and is counted on individual winners, not the number of winners.
Harris has also just launched his website, at www.paulharris.co.nz, which features a login area for owners to find out the latest news on their horses. Feedback from owners has been excellent, says Harris. "They really love having the ability to find out what times their horses have run, and what their programme is for the following week, at any time of the day or night."
Everyone knows how hard it is to get hold of a trainer -- they're the kind of people who need to be in several places at once, so this new innovation reduces the amount of "phone tag".
Owners can confidentially log in and check on the horses they have in training. It is thought to be the first time that a horse trainer has used the Internet to communicate with owners in this way.
There is a demo area where site visitors can view the type of information that is available to owners.
The Harris stable, based at Rangiora racecourse, received another boost late last month with apprentice Michael Walker's breaking of the New Zealand record number of wins by a jockey in one season. Walker won on Equity Rose, a mare trained by Paul Harris and owned by a syndicate.
In an industry steeped in tradition, Paul Harris, 37, is one of a new breed of modern racehorse trainer who is not afraid to do things differently. In recent weeks he has become a regular on television's Trackside programme, and is always happy to discuss prospects with interviewers.
He has the support of a sponsor, Arbi Monograms, which has outfitted staff with raceday jackets and poloshirts.
He's also keen to share as much information as possible with owners and recently organised a "Breakfast with your Star" event for owners and guests. This was the first of several events planned for owners, to keep them informed about their horses. Owners often have little idea how their horse is progressing -- but Harris feels that communication is important to maintaining good and lasting relationships in this industry. In the past many racehorse owners have felt that trainers don't have time for them, or they were not made welcome if they dropped in to see their horse -- indeed, the only time some owners see their horses is on raceday and chances are they dont even recognise the animal!
Further information: www.paulharris.co.nz